Canada | 2013 | Directed by Matt Johnson
Logline: Two high school best buddies embark on a film class project aimed at mocking the bullies, only to discover that one of them is deadly serious.
Quite possibly my favourite indie flick of the year; a pitch-black comedy aimed squarely at high-fiving those who have been bullied at school and slapping the mugs of those who bully. This is the shit that can happen. When a joke gets taken too far, a prankster loses control, or to be precise, becomes inexorably entwined in his own deadly machinations. This is a satire that steps into docu-drama territory, one foot in the truth, one foot in the fiction, the reality is rendered askew.
Young Matt Johnson’s debut feature is a brilliantly engineered and executed revenge plot of moments, asides, vignettes, sketches, and indulgences. Johnson plays Matt (ostensibly himself, and it's a gung-ho, bravura display of Geek), and pal Owen Williams plays Owen. They’re shameless movie geeks, Matt is forever referencing some cult or classic flick. They are dorks and they are cool. Their creative project in film class is titled "The Dirties", which refers to the two class bullies who take great pleasure in humiliating the two lads.
"The Dirties" stars Matt and Owen as two detectives out to bring the scum to justice. Their crew consists of two cameramen, who are never seen or heard, but are ever present, filming from close and far. Matt and Owen have wireless mics attached, so no need for a boom operator. Matt and Owen edit all their footage in Matt’s bedroom, surrounded by movie posters and memorabilia. This is a skeleton crew, shakin' dem bones.
Chrissy (Krista Madison), the class beauty, has been a long-standing crush of Owen’s since grade three. Now, she finally takes notice, and this drives a wedge between the buddies’ friendship. It seems the plan to take out the bullies for real is, in fact, a real plan, according to Matt. Owen is feeling more and more removed. Soon, the proverbial shit will hit the classroom fan.
Like Bobcat’s God Bless America, this is another fantastic example of when American filmmakers nail their own idiosyncratic failings. The Dirties is a hip-shooting, clever comedy that perfectly illustrates the disturbing unreality of our social climate. In a make-believe world of perfect retorts and hilarious movie context shenanigans Matt and Owen have created a monster.
Although it takes its cue – and reflection – from the infamous Columbine High School massacre, The Dirties is incredibly relevant in today’s increasingly pressurised para-social circumstances and trendy DIY filmmaking. There is a frightening rationale lurking behind Matt’s sarcastic, and ironic t-shirt statement, “We’re just here for the bad guys.”
Quite simply, The Dirties is the shiznit; the freshest, most original, and dangerously entertaining, low-budget indie flick in several years.
The Dirties screens as part of the 9th Possible Worlds – US & Canadian Film Festival, Sydney, Saturday 16th August, 8.30pm.